Jamie Jones-Buchanan knows the importance of laying foundations for further Leeds Rhinos glory. Peter Smith reports.
CONSTRUCTING a team performance is a bit like building a house, you have to work from the bottom up.
That’s England forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s assessment of the way Leeds Rhinos are looking to perform this season, as illustrated in last weekend’s win over Hull.
The scores were deadlocked towards the end of the third quarter, but pressure eventually told as Rhinos ran in five late tries to come out on top 36-6.
Jones-Buchanan said Rhinos will be looking to make another strong start when they visit Castleford Tigers tomorrow, but the back-rower stressed they don’t have to be out of sight on the scoreboard early in the match.
“We want to start well in games this year, but that doesn’t mean we have to score a lot of points straight away,” he said.
“You can build pressure and then it will bear fruit later on, like it did last week. It is all part of building a game.
“I am building my first house at the moment and a lot of labour goes into the foundations, which people don’t see.
“Everything above ground is what you see and that comes later. That’s how games are. You invest a lot in what you do early on and you get the rewards later.
“When you have got players like Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield, Zak Hardaker and Joel Moon in the team, if you are strong early on it is the back end of games when they shine.”
Jones-Buchanan reckons that philosophy has added importance for games at Wish Communications Stadium, where the crowd can be such a big influence when their side is going well.
“We’ve had some great games there,” he recalled.
“I like it because it’s a proper rugby ground, it’s their ground, they have old-school changing rooms and that Deep Heat rugby smell.
“It reminds me of when I was a kid, playing in good rugby towns. The pitch is always in great nick and the crowd are right on top of you so they can play a big part, especially when they’ve got you pinned behind your own sticks.
“It’s not the biggest town, but they don’t hold anything back when it comes to vocally getting behind their team in a match.”
Tomorrow’s derby is the first home game of the year for Tigers’ new-look side after they opened their Super League campaign with a 40-24 defeat at title favourites Warrington Wolves.
“We are expecting a big game, judging by the way they finished against Warrington,” Jones-Buchanan said .
“They will take a lot of confidence from that. They’ve got a lot of good players and it all revolves around Rangi Chase.
“They have got a tough run in the first four or five weeks, but this is a derby, it is a massive game and they’d like nothing better than to get a win against Leeds.
“We have got to go there with our best form and probably be better than we were last week. We will be trying to improve.”
Rhinos got their season off to an impressive start, but Jones-Buchanan knows backing up performances like that on a weekly basis has been a problem over recent campaigns.
“We’ve got to do it again, that’s our frame of mind,” he said. “
When you are the champions, teams come at you a lot harder and it is like being in semi-finals every week.
“That’s something we’ve got to prepare for and be ready for. No matter who you are, if you aren’t in the right frame of mind teams are going to turn you over.”
Rhinos will be without winger Joe Vickery, who suffered a knee injury last week and who joins Ben Jones-Bishop on the sidelines for Rhinos.
Jimmy Keinhorst has been recalled from Hunslet Hawks, where he is dual-registered and is set to take over.
“It’s tough on Joe, because he has been outstanding for us,” said Jones-Buchanan.
“It sometimes takes new players a while to settle in, but he has done a great job from the start and it’s the same with all the Australians who’ve come in this year.
“A chance opened up for Joe when Bish got hurt and he was taking it with both hands. He was looking good last week before he got hurt.
“It’s a shame for Joe, but these things happen in sport. Hopefully he can be back before too long and continue to show what he can do.”
Of Keinhorst, Jones-Buchanan said: “He is a success story.
“He was playing rugby league at university because he enjoyed it, Leeds picked him up and he got to play at Wembley last year in a Challenge Cup final.
“He is a great example to young kids.”
Jones-Buchanan added: “When he has come into the side he hasn’t looked out of place and if he gets a chance I’m sure he’ll come up with a great performance.”